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Francisco Trincão analysis: What could he offer to Barcelona?

Anurag Agate

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Header Image by Pedro Correia via Imago

Braga’s tricky and gifted right winger Francisco Trincão will be arriving to Barcelona in the summer, and thus in this player analysis we review his profile, playing style and what he could add to the Catalan squad.


On 31 January 2020, Barcelona announced the signing of Portuguese forward Francisco Trincão. With a release clause of €500 million and a transfer fee of  €31 million, it’s clear that Barcelona have a lot of faith in the 20-year-old. He is one of the most promising Portuguese players currently. With rivals Real Madrid recently signing many young wingers such as Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, Barcelona have a clear aim of getting a reliable enforcement for the future in the form of Trincão. In this analysis, we take a look at what Trincão has to offer Barcelona and if Catalonia is the right destination for him.

Player overview

Francisco Trincão is a forward who plays in the Portuguese Primeira Liga as a right winger or as a striker. 2020 has been his breakout year and his performance has reached new heights since Barcelona announced his signing, only strengthening the club’s faith in this signing. Trincão started out at his hometown club, Vianense SC.

Leaving his hometown, he had short spells at Porto and Braga. He made his debut for Braga B in 2016 and went on to score 6 goals in 46 appearances. His record for the national team is impressive with 10 goals in 18 games for the Portuguese U19. For Custódio Castro’s Braga team, he has really done well. He has scored 6 goals in 23 games, true, but his 6 goals along with 3 assists this season have been in just 17 matches out of which 10 he didn’t even start. His performance has improved since having more eyes on him due to the announcement of him signing for Barça.

How Trincão fits in the current system

Playing for Castro’s Braga side, the young Portuguese has most often played as the right-winger in a 3–4–3. He is given plenty of freedom to take the opposition head on and dribble frequently. Braga have had some problems in the managerial positions, but the 3–4–3 system implemented by Amorim is being varied on by his successor Custódio after the former was approached by Sporting and he left Braga for the capital. In this system, the wingers are given freedom to attack with overlapping full-backs. Though the team has been somewhat susceptible to counter-attacks, they maintain their possession football and Trincão is the one benefitted the most by this.

Francisco Trincão Braga analysis Barcelona

As the right-winger in this system, Trincão’s starting position is fairly wide. He has the freedom to move inwards a bit, and has the responsibility of tracking back when he gets dispossessed. As we can see from his heatmap, he drops back a lot when the team is defending and his physique which is tall at 184cm and stronger than it looks, he often dispossesses the opposition. Thanks to this, his team is able to maintain shape and can rely on him to provide support.

Following a possession-based style, Braga also look to attack on the counter rapidly. The pace and dribbling of Trincão allows him to be a major asset in these scenarios.

Offensive capabilities

Trincão has racked up impressive numbers recently. With 1 goal every 127 minutes and 3 assists in just over 1100 minutes. That equals around one goal contribution every 90 minutes. But how does he produce these?

One of the things that benefits him the most is his experience playing as a striker. This has allowed him to develop an eye for goal leading to him ending up in really good positions in front of goal. In some scenarios, a winger and striker have different instincts. Let’s take a look at an example here.

Francisco Trincão Braga analysis Barcelona

Here, we see a teammate of Trincão’s looking to supply him with a pass into the box. Trincão has two choices here. One is to stay back and receive the ball just inside the box and use his magical left-foot to curl it in. But there’s a chance that the player marking him will be able to block the shot and if not, one of the defenders outside the box may arrive while the 20-year-old is yet to settle on the ball and destabilise him. Nonetheless, thanks to Trincão’s eye for goal, he uses his excellent pace to drive ahead of his marker and calmly pass the ball into the net. This striker’s instinct is something that has helped the Braga forward to score goals so efficiently coupled with his physical abilities of a winger.

Francisco Trincão Braga analysis Barcelona

Something that the Portuguese lacks is vision. He is more of an old-fashioned winger who takes up majority of the right side. Many time he tends to miss his teammates’ runs. However he makes up for this with his ability to provide accurate cutbacks. His technique to improve accuracy in this is the work of years of experience against defenders in the final third. When near or in the box as shown in the image, he is always looking for an option as we can see. His strongest asset here is his pace and acceleration. He draws one defender close to him and with a burst of space bounds forward. Now the second defender has to cover his shot opportunity as a rebound might fall to a Braga player. This is when Trincão pulls it back and his teammate slots it in. This is what makes his pace arguably one of his strongest assets.

Jack of all trades

The young Braga player has a sense of responsibility when it comes to defensive duties and keeping possession. After one of his best performances, his coach called him to say he had been impressed by Trincão. What impressed him the most was how Trincão immediately started pressing after gaining the ball back. Here, we have an example of his sense of responsibility and how it helps his team. The 20-year-old is by no means short or frail and this allows him to shield the ball well and not go down easily. Here, Francisco made a run with the ball towards the central parts of the field and he was pressed upon by two opposition players. He almost lost possession here, but his determination helps him. He shields the ball really well as we can see. The opposition players have no way of reaching him without fouling him or giving him too much space. Trincão swivels his body and catches the opposition by surprise and then his pace allows him to nudge the ball forward and proceed into threatening open space.

This example illustrates just how useful his determination and shielding abilities are. These have a tactical importance as well. In many systems, the winger not only has to have attacking capabilities but also defensive. In Valverde’s system, Brazilian winger Malcom was expected to track back and help in defence and his lack of ability in that field was reportedly one of the reasons why he didn’t impress the now ex-blaugrana coach. Trincão would have no problem in systems needing a winger to have defensive capabilities. This would also allow him to play as an attacking midfielder with inverted wingers allowing him to maximise his pace and acceleration while not giving up possession easily as can happen to a number 10 when isolated from his teammates. 

The Barcelona way

Trincão has some attributes which seem to be the kind that would help him fit into the positional play at the Camp Nou. His current system with overlapping fullbacks means that he won’t be out of place as a winger at Barça. Apart from this, his striker’s instinct and past experience means he could play in many positions. He could be deployed as a striker but to make the most of his abilities, he would be best suited to play in an inverted front three as a right winger. Of course, the right wing is only one man’s domain at Barcelona, Messi, but with Leo dropping deeper with his age, a pure right winger like Trincão is at a huge advantage with one of the best passers of the ball ever to supply him.

❛ Trincão will mark an era at Barça.
I’m sure ❜

Antonio Salvador
SC Braga president

The Portuguese also tends to hold on to the ball longer than he would be able to at Catalonia. He would need to make more one-touch passes and quick decisions. The risky dribbles down the right wing would no longer be useful as frequently ads at Braga. His pace becoming not as useful as earlier would likely be the biggest detriment for him when he joins Barcelona.

There are some things which each player needs to change about his game when they come to Barcelona. Many players have done it successfully and Francisco has the determination and discipline to do so as well. From what we have seen so far, Trincão has the potential to be a key player at Barcelona provided that he alters his mould a bit.

See also

Self-confidence, the greatest weapon of Martin Braithwaite

• André Onana: excellent, promising, and unneeded for Barcelona

• Junior Firpo: second chance or not?

• Barcelona and Matthijs de Ligt: a second saga incoming?

18, living in India, obsessed with Barcelona and Spanish football. I am into football in any form: watching, playing, reading about, writing about...In particular, I'm very interested in youth football, especially La Masía. I try to learn more about the tactical side of football as well.

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Analysis

Koeman’s system in the Barcelona 4-0 Villareal

Anurag Agate

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Photo by David Ramirez via Imago

With a 4-0 victory at the Camp Nou, Koeman’s side has started the season on a positive note. Find out more about the tactical aspect of the match in this tactical analysis of Barcelona’s match against Villareal.


La Liga is finally back, and it’s back in full swing. We saw many high-scoring matches, with even Atleti scoring 6 goals against Granada. A very entertaining start to La Liga was capped off by Barcelona’s 4-0 Victory over Villareal. Koeman’s first La Liga game in-charge of Barcelona was a resounding success. The mindset of the players involved was clearly different from the mindset under Setien. With many players looking rejuvenated, Barcelona put in a performance which was desperately needed considering the fact that the wounds from Lisbon haven’t yet healed. Find out just how Barcelona managed to dominate a strong Villareal side in this tactical analysis.

Initial systems

Barcelona started out in a 4-2-3-1 as expected. The only surprise was that Messi’s starting position was more central than usual and Griezmann occupied the right-wing. Messi does eventually drift towards the centre anyway but the starting position is usually wider.

Villareal were in a 4-4-2 which later transitioned into a 4-4-2 diamond in the second half after the substitutions. Right from the start, Villareal looked to press from the front, with Chukwueze and Moi Gomez cutting out passing lanes to the full-backs and the two Villareal strikers pressing Barcelona’s center-backs. Here, an advantage of the 4-2-3-1 Koeman deployed was immediately visible. De Jong would drop back to receive the ball and then play it forward to Busquets, who was the other pivot. Had Barcelona played a 4-3-3, the pivot would have dropped back to receive the ball and build-up from the back in this case. But the midfield would be stretched vertically which we saw many times last season.

In midfield, Barcelona were prevented from playing through the centre by Parejo and Coquelin. The distance between Villareal’s midfield and defense lines was not much which forced Barcelona towards the wings. This strategy came back to bite Villareal in the form of Ansu Fati. The 17-year-old left-winger was unplayable against Villareal. Gaspar was unable to contain him. Jordi Alba was much better than in a long time. The work-rate Koeman demands and the many extra training sessions were really showing. After a 2019/20 season which wasn’t the best for Barcelona, yesterday’s performance was very impressive.

Koeman’s foresight

Both wingers would regularly tuck-in between the full-backs and center-halves. This allowed Barcelona’s full-backs to advance up the field much more. With the full-backs attacking and the wingers tucking in, the Villareal defensive line would be occupied. This allowed Coutinho more space than usual. Along with this, Busquets and De Jong would be available to either stop the counter, or to act as passing options. This assortment of many attacking roles allowed Barcelona to have sustained attacking possession.

Villareal had a clear game plan as well. Considering the fact that their two strikers are performing well and are well-synchronized, the wingers were instructed to cross the ball often. The full-backs would advance, but not overlap frequently. This could either not be a part of the game plan or because of the attacking threat, Barcelona posed from the start. With Dani Parejo in midfield, Emery would ideally be able to continue playing the possession-based football his teams play. Coquelin would offer a bit of dynamism in midfield along with the Spanish midfielder.

However, Koeman took an interesting decision and gave Busquets the role to man-mark Parejo. Though both were surprisingly not the best on the ball on the day, Busquets did well to restrict Parejo to lateral and back passes. In the second-half, Vilalreal’s game plan was executed better in the 4-4-2 diamond. This allowed Parejo to get on the ball more, wit him playing a major role in the build-up. Emery knows his players’ strengths very well. Parejo in the defensive mid role, with pacey wingers on either sides means fast transitions. For Barcelona s well, the transitions were key. Coutinho’s mediapunta role and the freedom Messi has both contributed to this.

Double-pivot

We already saw the many benefits this formation has offered, taking the strengths of the players Koeman has into full consideration. The ease during build-up with one pivot dropping back, being able to sustain the attack with the mediapunta getting more space, the freedom Busquets had to man-mark Parejo, which would have been difficult in a single pivot, etc. Another one of the advantages is in defense.

Barcelona were vulnerable in defense throughout last season. Jordi Alba looks like refreshed and fitter than usual, and with Dest potentially joining the Blaugrana, the full-backs are looking promising. In case that Barcelona does get caught on the counter, Koeman does have a solution to one of the problems. When Barcelona are on the backfoot, De Jong and Busquets would need to make sure their positioning is immaculate. They were instructed to plug the gaps between the center-halves and full-backs, which would have a two-fold purpose. Firstly, through-balls against more creative players would be much more difficult, with the gaps being reduced and Coutinho and Griezmann helping in defense. Secondly, the opposition would be less likely to crowd the box, since Barcelona can now afford to get at least 4 players into the box if the pivots were to position themselves as such. However, this would be very dependent on the split-second judgment and whether the players decide to press or track-back.

Conclusion

For Koeman’s first La Liga match, the performance was quite promising. Barcelona looked better tactically and in terms of hard work than Villareal as we saw in this tactical analysis. The latter being something that Barcelona desperately need, what remains to be seen is how Barcelona will fare against teams that rely on individual ability more than Villareal and the unpredictability that follows. Apart from this, will the players be able to sustain the intense work ethic Koeman demands? If Barcelona do decently in these conditions and some others, we might see a much better season from them than expected.

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